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full forgiveness by procuring his release. He relied not on mercy, but on his own works. When he found his works unavailing, he saw no other resort. He sunk into despair.
By God's law, gain the knowledge of your sins, and of their exceeding guilt-know that no human works can expiate this guilt. Remember that repentance, though a necessary and a sure condition of pardon, makes no atonement; but pardon must come from the unbounded mercy of God-believe that his mercy is exercised to sinners through the atonement of the Saviour. Go, and fall down before him in deep repentance, fervent prayer and humble resolutions of future obedience.
Trust not in the works you have done, or shall do, as the ground of your acceptance; but rely on his grace in Christ Jesus for the pardon of sins that are past, and for help in time to come. And rejoice in this, as a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came to call sinners to repentance, and to save them who are lost.
THE PRESENT CONDITION AND FUTURE PROSPECTS OF THE BE
II. CORINTHIANS v. 1.
For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dis
solved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
In the preceding chapter, the apostle had given an affecting account of the sufferings, which he and his brethren had endured in the cause of the gospel. At the fourteenth verse, he mentions the main ground of their support under their peculiar trials. They knew that he who raised up the Lord Jesus, would by him raise them up also. “For this cause," he adds, “we faint not; for
” though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the
1 things which are not seen, are eternal."
The apostle may be understood as speaking in this manner; The afflictions which we suffer in the cause of the gospel are many and great. But they do not dishearten us. We collect
from them every day new courage and vigor, being animated with this glorious expectation, that these transient trials will be succeed-, ed by inexpressible and permanent glory. Upon this happy result of all our afflictions we hold the eye of our faith constantly fixed. And therefore we faint not; for we know, that when our earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, we shall have a better house, a building of God-a house not made with hands, but one which shall be eternal in the heavens.”
In these words, as connected with the preceding, we may obserye,
I. An affecting representation of our present frail and mortal condition.
II. An animating description of the heavenly state.
III. The assurance which believers may have of their title to that state.
IV. And the support which they may thence derive under the troubles of life.
I. Here is an affecting representation of our present frail and mortal condition. We dwell in an earthly house—a tabernacle which shall be dissolved.
The body is compared to a house. It is the habitation of the soul.
A house is designed for the reception of some inhabitant. The body is called a house, because it is the residence of an immortal mind.
Matter and mind-flesh and spirit constitute the man.
The mind is the superior part of the man. He who occupies a house has more honor than the house. The spirit residing in the body has more worth than the body. It is our duty to keep the house in comfortable repair ; but our principal concern should be for the health and support of the spiritual occupant. No
prudent man will hazard life to adorn his house. No wise christian will neglect the salvation of his soul for the gratification of carnal desires.
A house is usually furnished with apartments and utensils for the accommodation of the possessor. Our bodies are wonder
fully made, and curiously constructed. They are furnished with members and organs suited to the works in which they may be employed in the present world. We must therefore glorify God in our bodies, as well as in our spirits-present them living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God-yield our members instruments of righteousness to him. We are to avoid all such indulgences, as would unfit the body for the use of the mind in the service of God. We must abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the
Lest we should think too highly of this house, the apostle calls it an earthly house. It becomes us often to consider our humble original—to look to the rock from which we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence we were digged. “The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul." These bodies are only lumps of earth, moulded into a proper shape, and animated by the breath of God.
In regard to our original existence, and the materials of which we are made, we stand on a level with worms, with insects, with the most despicable animals. Yea, the dust on which we tread is the same substance with that out of which our bodies were made, and from which they are still nourished. They are but common dust wrought up by the hand of God into their present form, to serve a particular purpose for a season; and when this purpose is accomplished, they will, like other useless buildings, either be taken down, or left to fall into ruins.
They are called earthly houses to denote their fragility—their weakness—their tendency to decay. They are not like structures of marble, which will sustain the violence of accidents, or endure the wastes of time; but like earthen vessels, which yield to the slightest stroke. They are formed with exquisite skill, but are not made to last long. They are hastening to the dust. They may be broken by casualty; or, if they escape accidents, they will soon wear out by use.
What a humbling consideration. These bodies, which we defend with care-adorn with art-nourish by labor-these bodies
whose strength is our boast, and whose beauty is our pride, will soon be reduced to deformity, impotence and dust—will soon be mixed and confused with common earth.
Do you glory in your parentage—in your possessions ? Do you despise others as being, in these respects, your inferiors ? What are the things in which you glory? Are your bodies made of better clay ? Were they better moulded? Are they less frail less liable to dissolution ? Is not your property collected from earth? Does it not grow out of dust ? May it not soon become dust and be scattered with the wind ? What preeminence have you above them. The grave is the place for all—all were made of dust, and all turn to dust again.
The apostle calls the body a house—but he corrects and qualifies the term, as if it were too favorable to be applied to a mortal body. He signifies that it is a tent rather than a house—“Our earthly house of this tabernacle."
The body is rather a temporary lodging, than a real habitation for the soul. It is called a tabernacle, because it is moveable. It is, like a tent, to be carried from place to place, as occasion may require. We have here no abiding city-no permanent habitation. This is a world full of change. We often change the place of our abode. Or if we dwell in the same place, our condition is changing. Our bodies are decaying with age. Our property may be wasted by the events of time. Our friends are leaving us and going down to the grave.
A tent is sò slightly compacted that it may easily be taken to pieces. Our bodies were not built for ages, but only for a few days. Hence their frame is weak and tender.
A tent is not a fixed habitation, but an occasional shelter. Such is the body. Soon we must quit our present tabernacle, for a more permanent abode.
A tabernacle denotes a state of pilgrimage. We are strangers and pilgrims on earth. We are at a distance from our proper home. We are exposed to many inconveniences and trials. But we are on our homeward journey. We hope, by and by, to find better accommodations. If we say, we are pilgrims, we declare